Voters shake up Chicago City Council

April 6, 2011 4:34:48 PM PDT
The Chicago City Council is getting a makeover after Tuesday's election. There will be 15 new aldermen in the new City Council.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel won most of the aldermanic runoffs in which he made endorsements and said Tuesday's election confirmed that Chicagoans want major reform in how the city is governed.

"They voted for change. They voted for an end to business as usual," said Emanuel.

As he toured Microsoft's Chicago headquarters, the mayor-elect talked about using technology and a new Chicago City Council to reform city government.

"Almost a third of the City Council will be new. And that means we can start doing new things and doing things that we have to do in a new way and more effective," said Emanuel.

The change from old to new was most dramatic in the 50th Ward where Emanuel-endorsed challenger Debra Silverstein defeated 10 term incumbent alderman Berny Stone.

"I will be an independent alderman. The people here are going to be my top priority," said Silverstein.

"I don't say this in gest: I'm only 83 years old and I still feel I have a lot more to accomplish in life," said Stone.

In the 45th Ward, apparent winner John Arena is nursing a 29 vote lead over John Garrido who has until Friday to request a recount.

"I think that I owe it to my supporters to do everything I can to make sure that every last vote is counted," said Garrido.

Four sitting aldermen, including Stone, Sharon Dixon, Fredrenna Lyle and John Rice, were defeated Tuesday.

In all, 15 new aldermen will be sworn in on May 16, making the incoming council one of the most fractious and, as one expert predicts, most willing to make political deals.

"I think you're going to see some coalitions that cross racial boundaries, that are going to cross geographic boundaries, and we're going to see some very, I think it will be a very interesting hybrid," said Maze Jackson, political consultant.

But will an inexperienced council be more likely to be dominated by the incoming mayor? He was asked what he thought about switching his eventual title from Chicago's mayor to its emperor.

"My family's very clear that I do not look good in a toga," Emanuel said.

Emanuel says he is already had conversations with over 40 of the 50 alderman elects. He will need 26 votes to get any reform legislation passed by the City Council. At this point, whether he can count on that many votes will depend on the issue. Certainly, he will not have Mayor Daley's legendary rubber stamp, at least not at the beginning.

Berny Stone sits down with ABC7

Stone sat down with ABC7 Chicago Wednesday inside City Hall and talked about Tuesday's runoff election and his defeat.

"It never feels good to lose, but if I am going to lose, I'm happy it was a good beating. I would have been really upset had it been close," he said. "There are so many people who have been friends and who I have become attached to. That will be the most emotional moment of my career. That's going to be the hardest moment."

"I have listened to so many goodbye speeches, and now it is my turn to say goodbye," Stone added.

The longtime alderman says he wants to become a political analyst on radio or television. He says he does not want to serve in politics anymore.

Stone said his proudest moment was when he was elected to city council for the first time.

Other races

In another race Tuesday, Roderick Sawyer, the son of the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer, edged out 6th Ward incumbent Ald. Freddrenna Lyle.

"I believe I won because the residents of the 6th Ward wanted to move forward in a new direction," Sawyer said.

Election results show Michael Chandler is back as alderman of the 24th Ward. He defeated incumbent Sharon Dixon. She beat him back in 2007.

"It is clearly a victory for our community. The people had a clear choice. They have experienced the leadership of Sharon Dixon for four years. They have experienced the leadership of Michael Chandler for 12 years, and the people made a clear choice here," Chandler said.

Firefighter Nicholas Sposato won the 36th Ward over John Rice, who was appointed in 2009 to replace Ald. William Banks.

"I'm going to work hard, dig in and create an open 36th Ward where people can come and communicate with me," said Sposato.

In an extremely tight race, Michele Smith appears to have won in the 43rd Ward.

Incumbents who survived runoffs are Toni Foulkes, JoAnn Thompson, and Latasha Thomas in the 15th, 16th and 17th wards. Thompson's opponent, Hal Baskin, was arrested at an elementary school after an altercation with an election judge.

"Never said anything to anybody, never threatened anybody, never intimidated anybody," said Baskin. "They arrested me."

Danny Solis retained his seat in the city's 25th Ward, and Tim Cullerton prevailed in the 38th Ward.

Of the four open seats, Mary O'Connor won the 41st Ward, and James Cappleman won the 46th.

Residents will see how the aldermen and mayor work together when Rahm Emanuel is sworn in mid-May.

ABC7Chicago.com has all election results. Updates are also available at ABC7ToGo.com.


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